Villagers could be forced out of homes for a decade over weapons removal

Staff writer

Villagers from an idyllic Swiss settlement of Mitholz face a 10-years wait to return to their properties after officials told them a huge cache of WW2 weaponry, stored nearby, needs to be removed.

The Swiss defence ministry said the risk posed by the weapons was now "unacceptable", after the roof of the underground depot partially caved in, leaving fallen rock everywhere.

Last year, a report concluded that the 3,500 tonnes of ammunition and explosives was a danger, and a repeat of the 1947 incident that saw 7,000 tonnes of explosives detonating and killing nine people, must not be repeated.

"Depending on how the work develops, residents should expect the evacuation to last up to more than 10 years," the ministry told Euronews, with 2031 being the earliest they could be removed.

A Plan B of burying the weapons under more rock has been dismissed as leaving a "toxic gift for descendants," according project manager Hanspeter Aellig.